The vineyards of the domaine curl over the hills passing seamlessly across the border of Italy into the slopes of Slovenia. Meticulously maintained, the rows of grapevines settle into terraces that are dotted throughout with trees and bodies of water designed to attract wildlife and assure biodiversity. Gravner is steadily replanting to assure the primacy of the autochthonous grape varieties of Ribolla and Pignolo. They farm using no chemicals, nothing artificial, and nothing added accept a low amount of sulfur if necessary.
After determining that stainless steel was not a proper marriage for his wines in the 1990s, Josko Gravner decided to follow the ancient wine producing techniques used in the Caucasus and began fermenting his wines in huge amphorae buried in the ground in his cellars in 2001, with a full conversion for all wines as of 2004. The whites, which make up about 85% of the estate’s production, spend about 10 months total in amphorae, with the reds a shorter 1 to 2 months. He insists on aging his wines in large barrels for many years, so release dates for most wines are from 7 to 10 years or more from the date of harvest.
Mateja Gravner, Josko's daughter, joined her father a handful of years ago to help explain and share her father’s wine with the world. She is now the representing face of Gravner in the market place.
I'll Drink to That!: Episode 245: Josko Gravner
Wine Enthusiast: Ancient Vessels, Modern Wines
James Suckling: Mini-Vertical of Ten Gravner Wines
Wine Anorak: The Wines of Josko Gravner, Collio/Brda, Italy/Slovenia
The Wall Street Journal: Keeping Wine Honest
Sprudge: Josko Gravner: The Sprudge Wine Interview
Instagram: @matejagravner, @joskogravner
"Roughly thirty-two hectares (of which eighteen are under vine) located in the high quality area of Oslavia in the Collio, a true if unofficial grand cru for Ribolla Gialla. The estate is arguably Italy’s best (by far) at making minimal intervention wines, with long macerations, was one of the first to turn to amphoras as an aging vessel. There is simply no comparison between Gravner’s wines (in matters of texture, cleanliness, precision and depth) and similarly made wines by practically anyone else in the region or the country, for that matter. That fact recognized, I want to stress that the talent level has always been extraordinary here, such that the wines have always been outstanding, and this was true even long ago when long macerations and amphoras weren’t an issue. Today the estate is all about trying to re-establish a natural balance in its vineyards (for example by creating ponds on the property and by planting olive, wild apple trees and cypresses to create a habitat for different animals), moving away with as much technology and equipment and utensils as possible, such as barriques. Over the years the estate has also moved away from a lot of the different varieties it had planted, so there are no more Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Grigio wines produced, for example. The Ribolla Gialla wines age extremely well and though you have to like white wines being treated as reds, it’s hard to argue with their quality. Even more impressive is the Rosso Breg, made with Pignolo (the only red grape left on the property), a variety that gives “tough tannins” a whole new meaning, yet Gravner’s version is remarkably complex and smooth."